HVAC impacts COVID-19 transmission in a few different ways. Pathogens, like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, spread by inhaling infected airborne droplets. This transmission also results through contact with high-touch surfaces such as door handles, railings, and countertops. Scientists also believe that the coronavirus spreads through aerosol transmission. This occurs when the virus gets dispersed in tiny droplets of water. When the infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks loudly, these droplets travel at great speeds through the air. For example, as many as 30,000 of these particles get released in a single sneeze. Once released, these droplets attach to airborne particles such as dust. As a result, the risk of indoor infection increases.
If the coronavirus gets spread through aerosol transmission, the question becomes, do HVAC systems circulate this airborne pathogen throughout the indoor environment? If it does, then how HVAC impacts COVID-19 becomes even more important to understand.
Indoor Coronavirus Transmission
In the early stages of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) declined to recognize the aerosol transmission of the virus. This prompted a response from hundreds of engineers and scientists who appealed to the WHO to alter its position. The organization now recognizes that aerosols are a possible form of transmission.
Aerosols are clusters of tiny particles that are light enough to float in the air. The smaller and lighter the particle is, the longer it floats. Some aerosols stay in the air for as long as eight hours. One study on the stability of the SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) found that the virus can remain in the air for up to three hours. This increases the risk of inhalation and poses a danger to building occupants. Since HVAC systems take as long as three hours to move air out of a building, this poses an obvious danger to building occupants.
How HVAC Impacts COVID-19
We rely on HVAC systems to regulate the flow of air inside the buildings we spend most of our time in. In turn, these systems help dilute the concentration of airborne viruses. Proper air filtration also decreases the concentrations of viruses. This makes maintenance of existing HVAC systems critical to limiting infectious outbreaks in schools, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and commercial buildings.
Building and facilities managers can reduce the threat posed to building occupants with simple preventative solutions.
The hygienic cleaning of HVAC units helps reduce the concentration of airborne pathogens. For example, the PURE-Steam HVAC Cleaning system uses 350° F steam to clean HVAC evaporator coils and the interior of air handling units. Cleaner AHUs and coils mean cleaner air and a lower risk of infections. It’s also energy efficient so it has additional money-saving benefits.
Another solution to preventing viral infections is PURE-Duct hygienic cleaning. This system reduces the level of harmful particulates in the air by cleaning the supply and return ductwork with negative air machines with HEPA filtration. This duct cleaning method uses high-pressure air turbulence to dislodge dust and debris. After that, an industrial-strength vacuum system with HEPA filters removes the dislodged materials so they can’t circulate. The result is a better functioning HVAC system circulating cleaner air.
Bipolar ionization is also effective in deactivating airborne viruses. HVAC-mounted PURE-Plasma HVAC-mounted ionizers use positive and negative ions to start oxidation in the cells of viruses. This causes the cells to break down. As a result, the virus gets neutralized. These ionizers also attack mold and bacteria, destroy volatile organic compounds, and reduce odors. The result is a cleaner, healthier indoor environment with a lower risk of infectious outbreaks.
We Can Help
Pure Air Controls understands the ways that HVAC impacts COVID-19. We help building and facilities managers reduce risk, increase energy efficiency, and improve indoor air quality. Contact Pure Air Control today.